I really hope you didn't get distracted and miss it, but it's my job to get the word out: 24 October was National Bologna Day.

I know, I know. Lots of people didn't. But try to be strong. Take a minute to pull yourself together, if you need. But I'll bet that, next year, you'll be paying a little more attention to these things, won't you? Mmm?

National Bologna Day - that one day a year when we celebrate the career of actor Joseph Bologna.

No, I made that up. National Bologna Day is a day set aside to pay our respects to Baloney, a city in northern Italy known as the birthplace of Oscar Mayer, the first Earl of Sandwich.

I made that up, too. Starting to see a pattern yet?

If you think about it, and I doubt you will, and I don't blame you, it's hard to grasp the monumental coincidence necessary that would allow a National Bologna Day to fall this close to a Presidential Election Day.

On the other hand, it makes perfect sense. I mean, for direct-dialed, high-impact baloney, you just can't beat a Joe Biden stump speech. At any minute during any speech, you half-expect his ears to spout mustard, forcing Congress to grab a frying pan, subsidize white bread, and declare a National Fried Sandwich Day, or at least name a Post Office after Joseph Bologna.

As it turns out, the month of October is just jam-packed with holidays, though you rarely hear about most of them unless you're a member of Congress, in which case you're preparing to not work during any of them; after all, you just returned from not working during any of September's holidays. (Not working is what Congress calls 'recess.' And when you think about that arrogant asylum of warring brats, 'recess' is the perfect word for it.)

Every single day in October plays host to at least one holiday. For example, 10 October is 'World Mental Health Day,' which we usually celebrate by yelling at people in traffic. But 11 October - the very next day - is 'Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day.' And it's bizarre scheduling like this, I think you'll agree, that helps explain how October got its nickname: 'National Sarcasm Awareness Month.'

(Coincidentally, 15 October is 'National Grouch Day.' I guess HR finally made your boss get rid of his teddy bear.)

Obviously, though, when it comes to holidays in October, National Bologna Day doesn't get a lot of attention, unless you're Joseph Bologna, or a devotee of the Pork Channel (not to be confused with C-SPAN). But neither do many other very fine October holidays. Witness:

** National Mole Day (not to be confused with Take Your Ferret to Work Day)
** National Mule Day (take a border-jumping drug runner to lunch!)
** Count Your Buttons Day (renamed in 1998 by Bill Clinton to 'Velcro Appreciation Day')
** Increase Your Psychic Powers Day (Yes, really. I am not good enough to make this stuff up.)
** Reptile Awareness Day (Actually, I think every day should be filled with reptile awareness. Personally, whenever I become Aware of a Reptile, I immediately respond by celebrating National Run Away Day, followed closely by Run Straight Into A Tree Day.)

Contrary to what you might be thinking, National Mole Day is not a day to celebrate spies (see 'Drug Runners'), nor garden pests (see 'Congress'), nor is it the time to stare at that dark, disturbing hair-capped spot on your coworker's chin. National Mole Day is actually about chemistry. (I say that up front, in case you want to skip this part and go do something more interesting, like counting your buttons.)

See, in the world of career chemists, which is a cold and blisteringly dull place where sex appeal goes to die, a 'mole' is a basic measuring unit that equals the atomic mass of a single molecule. (Counting buttons yet?)

The actual number of a mole is 6.02 x 10^23, which is a number so large that mathematicians are forced to describe it to us 'civilians' by using emoticon-like symbols:

** 0 (buttons)
** X (kisses)
** ^ (single-family housing)

Thanks to their intervention, therefore, we non-scientific 'laymen' can now grasp the staggering size of this mole whaddayacallit thingie. A mole is, like, really huge and stuff.

A monstrous number. In fact, if Congress were to take one recess for every mole zero, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

Anyway, it's that mole's number that we now celebrate on National Mole Day, a number known to mathematicians and chemists who hang out in General Sciences Karaoke Bars as "Avogadro's Number," since it was discovered by an Italian named Amadeo Avogadro's Number.

According to the internet, Avogadro's full name was Lorenzo Romano Amadeo Carlo Avogadro, conte de Quaregna e di Cerreto (literal translation: 'Oscar Meyer'). But his parents couldn't afford to embroider all that on his lunchbox, so they just went with Amadeo (literal translation: 'a movie about Mozart').

Legend has it that Avogadro challenged chemistry's conventional wisdom (that kind of picky 'can't leave well enough alone' nonsense went on all the time in the 1800s). Chemists at the time depended heavily on a construct known as the Law of Definite Proportions, but around 1810, Avogadro met Sophia Loren, had an epiphany (literal translation: 'misdemeanor'), and came up with the Law of Multiple Proportions. And the rest was, as they say, baloney.

No, in the "Everybody's Favorite Holiday" contest, Baloney Day and its mates don't stand a chance. And why is that?

You know why.

This annual slighting of what would otherwise be perfectly good festive days is due to the looming presence of that overpowering holiday monolith that steals October's spotlight - yes, you know the one I'm talking about:

Four Prunes Day.

No, I'm talking of course about that autumnal crowd-pleaser, Halloween, that magical late-October evening when, all across America, eager children, many of them old enough to default on a mortgage, dress up in costumes, fearlessly trespass, and extort candy from homeowners who actually are defaulting on a mortgage, all to celebrate an ancient mystery: the official kick-off of the Christmas shopping season.

By the way, if you're looking for ways to fully immerse yourself in 'Increase Your Psychic Powers Day' ... and who isn't? ... here are some suggestions from a particularly lame, lashed-together, holiday-focused website, one of those cloyingly cute, exclamation-point-laced e-efforts that refuse to be shackled by outdated concepts like spelling, grammar, and punctuation:

** Get out the Ouija board! Use it with some friends! (Do this repeatedly until you don't have any friends left. It won't take long.)
** Flip a coin and guess heads or tails. Over time, as your psychic power increases, you should guess correctly more than 50% of the time. (Also, over time, people will stop inviting you to go places, and coworkers will start leaving Thorazine brochures on your desk.)
** When the phone rings, guess who it will be. As you go through the day, guess what people are going to say. (As your psychic power increases, accost random strangers in the grocery, spin them around, and yell, "I know! I know!")
** Get out a deck of cards. Shuffle them well. Think of what the top card is. Then, turn it over. (Better yet, don't even bother turning it over. Just tell people you're psychic. Tell everyone you meet. Say it loudly, while wearing various hats. Don't forget to update your résumé!)

One final note: I'm told that, somewhere in the October calendar, there's an International Skeptics Day.

I'm not buying it.